It’s Dementia Action Week this week and we’re supporting the week by raising awareness of the condition and encouraging conversations with friends and loved ones with dementia.
Every three minutes someone in the UK develops dementia and one in three people will develop dementia in their lifetime.
An estimated 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK – and 24.6 million people, 38% of the population, knows a family member or close family friend living with dementia. Around 40,000 people of the 850,000 are aged 65 or younger and have been diagnosed with Young Onset Dementia.
Dementia costs £26 billion per year in the UK - more than heart disease, stroke and cancer together.
Communication in Dementia
Dementia affects parts of the brain that controls language and can cause additional sensory impairment, cognitive impairment, depression, anxiety and changes in behaviour.
This could include problems with word finding, inappropriate language, repetition, a longer thought process, reverting back to original language if English is not their first language and anxious or distressed behaviour in unfamiliar surroundings or at different times of day.
Tips for communication include;
* Limit distractions
* Use the person’s name and smile – and introduce yourself if they do not recognise you
* Speak slowly, clearly, and in short sentences
* Allow plenty of time to answer
* Avoid open-ended questions or too many choices
* Listen carefully with empathy and understanding
* Be reassuring – don’t contradict or argue
* Ensure all sensory equipment is offered and clean – spectacles, hearing aids, dentures
* Use distraction or reminiscence techniques
* Identify - are they in pain, do they need the toilet, are they hungry, confused or scared? Do they recognise the environment?
* Use other forms of communication to connect: Pictures/pictorial menus, touch, music, animals, etc.